June 23, 2010.
Officials from Vietnam are meeting with the Vatican on June 23 and 24. Vatican press director Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi says the visit is to “strengthen and develop bilateral relations.”
The Vietnam-Holy See Joint Working Group met for the first time in February 2009 in Hanoi.
The relationship between the Catholic Church and the socialist Vietnamese government has been strained for decades. The last chapter was in May, when Joseph Kiêt resigned as Archbishop of Hanoi for health reasons. The Vietnamese government had accused the former archbishop of “instigating riots.”
But in recent years, the Vatican and Vietnam have made progress in opening relations. Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung met Benedict XVI in January 2007 and Vietnam's President Nguyen Minh Triet visited the Pope in December 2009.
Vietnam has the fourth-largest Catholic population in Asia, with approximately 6 million Catholics making up nearly 7 percent of the country's population.